“Yes, We Can”










Feminists are in huge demand this year. Bernie wants them. Hillary wants them.  So does The Donald, Ted and Mario.  They are not in short supply these days so much as they are now specialty groups, segmented by age, ethnicity, income, education, and then on down to where they live, what they buy and what they wear. I would tell the “would be presidents” that they can no longer simply shout out to women as a group.

For starters, women are no longer defined by their “Mrs.” degrees. I think most of us have got that right by now. Today, women are defined by the paths they create for themselves – whether they decide to be wives, mothers and/or professionals in whatever career they choose and in whatever order they choose.

Post-war American women are not content to be home bodies. World War II liberated them. They embodied the slogan “Yes, We Can” long before President Obama adopted it. It was the will of thousands of women who took factory jobs and went to war alongside men as Army WACs and Navy WAVES that helped win the war. The aftermath of course is that the genie can’t and won’t go back into the bottle. So, ever since women have been reshaping themselves in new roles – a blend of who they are both as females and professionals. Today, women are an important part of the workforce and they’re not going back home. So let’s deal with it – equal pay and child care – and most of all, respect from our male coworkers.

A new exhibition by ArtsWestchester explores the question of what it means to be a woman through the eyes of artists.  SHE: Deconstructing Female Identity — opening March 13 and running through June 25 — is an exhibition that looks at this question through sculpture, photography, drawings and other medium. Archetypes like Jean Harlow, Mae West and Madonna are among the subjects of this exploration. And of course the exhibition also looks at fashion — from bikinis to handbags — and how fashion has become synonymous with womanhood. Fashion is central to the age old question of what constitutes beauty. What is beautiful in some cultures may be abhorrent in others. And this too is explored in the exhibition. And what about “feminine” as a value: is it outdated? And, are we really what we wear?

Recently, Mattel, the makers of the Barbie doll, first created in 1959, came to this conclusion and announced that they would begin selling Barbie dolls that reflect the different races and body-types in our culture. That was an encouraging sign, not just for diversity, but for women. Albeit, while the dolls are still made of plastic, they now more genuinely reflect the complexities of being a woman, a person, not an object of ideal beauty.

And, speaking of objects, one has to wonder how much longer it will be before women are no longer objectified. Yes, there’s lots to talk about.
So, join the conversation and let’s get a little closer to why is it so important to ourselves and to the world that we consider, value and respect what it means to be a woman today.

SHE: Deconstructing Female Identity opens March 13 from 3-5 p.m. at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, NY. 

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